Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Tell Me What You Read


"I declare after all there is no enjoyment 
quite like reading."
Jane Austen

In my last post I mentioned a book list posted by Brenda of It's a Beautiful Life. I've had a fun couple of days pondering my own responses to her prompts, and here they are. I'd love to read your book choices, too, either in the comments or on your own blog. Or even your answers to one or two of the prompts. 

1. A favourite (or two or three) from your childhood: The Bobbsey Twins series, Nancy Drew series, Eight Cousins and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Nurses Who Led the Way, The Secret Garden, Pippi Longstocking

2. A book you read once that you can't stop thinking about: Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd - This was my first foray into time travel and it fascinated me. The book had an unusual yellow binding so it was easy to find on the O shelf in our school library. I did read it many times, not just once, and still think about it from time to time. 

3. One book that shaped your life: Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer

4. A book you couldn't put down: Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams

5. A book that deepened your thinking: Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, A Long Obedience by Eugene Peterson

6. A book with a favourite heroine: I've always liked Emily, found in L. M. Montgomery's books. Emily of New Moon is a more complex character than Anne of Green Gables, much as I admire Anne.

7. A book that creates a safe place when you need rest in your soul: Anything by Miss Read

8. A book that lifts your spirits and makes you feel happy: The Enchanted April, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

9. Something you want to read but haven't got to it yet: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I've read others of his, but not that one.

10. A book you like to read over and over: Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier in the summer, and Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher in the winter. 

11. A book you just finished and loved: Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing by her daughter and grandson, Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini

12. A book you just started and already know you like: Not sure what to answer here. I just started a so-so book, but I'm picking up The Reading List by Sarah Nisha Adams at the library tomorrow and I'm looking forward to that one. 

"The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched 
the patches of the universe into one garment for us."
Faber in Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Quiet Rain on Sunday Afternoon


Outside my window: Rain blew against the windows much of the night and into today. Trees still toss outside and the rain is a fine mist that comes and goes. Patches of yellow daffodils dot the brown garden, bright and cheery on a dull-sky day. Those patches increase every year as I plant a few more bulbs each spring. I really must take a photo to see just where those clumps will appear, for in the autumn planting season there is no sign of them at all.

I am thinking about books. My friend Brenda put up a post sharing some of her favourite books on a variety of topics and encouraged her readers to create their own lists. I'll likely put up a post later this week. I shudder to think of a life without books. 

One of my favourite things is a quiet Sunday afternoon, like today. I feel no compunction to accomplish anything. As a child, Sundays were for church in the morning followed by a lovely dinner often shared with company. Sometimes I would invite a friend to spend the afternoon and we would play quietly with paper dolls, colouring, or creating something. We couldn't be too boisterous. After a simple supper we would return to church for the evening service and my friend would go home with her family. 

Morning church is still a part of our weekly routine that I very much enjoy and look forward to. However, the custom of inviting people for dinner has disappeared, unless we invite family. After I had children I wondered who on earth thought that a 7 pm service on a Sunday evening was a good idea. Keeping little ones up past their bedtime made for a terrible Monday. I'm very glad that evening services have also gone by the wayside. 

In my garden the peonies are beginning to push up from the ground. It's amazing to think of the potential in those small red buds. Soon elegantly ruffled pink and white peonies will nod in the sunshine. Such a delight to anticipate. 

Now the creamy white Hellebores bloom and a hint of the dark pink variety are seen in the background. I love the way they bloom on and on until the days are sunny and warm. 

It makes me smile to watch the birds at the feeder and suet block. There is a Downy Woodpecker couple who come regularly, never at the same time, he with his red head-patch, and she without. Do they have a nest nearby? I wonder. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee contorts to get the best position for feeding. 

I am finding beauty in the papery dried tulip petals from a bunch I had last week. I let them dry in the vase knowing that a work of natural art would result. And so it did. 

In the kitchen I'm planning to make Mary Berry's Chicken and Herb Casserole, found on Jan's blog. Alongside I'll make rice to soak up all the lovely sauce, and some broccoli and cauliflower, along with a salad. 

I am reading a lot of non-fiction these days. Memoirs, mostly as I plug along with my own attempt. 

Thank you for reading along today. It's time for me to start some dinner preparations. 

Have a beautiful week. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hopeful Signs

Have you noticed how much brighter the days are? Even on the rainy, cold days we're experiencing there is a sense of lightness that assures us that winter will end soon. I grew up living much further north where winter's grip held tight throughout February. Here, in the mildest climate in Canada, I can hardly complain, yet I find February a difficult month - I'm tired of my winter clothes, I want to get into the garden, and I long for colour. I crave vegetables and bright flavours like lemon and herbs. 

I indulged in purchasing several small pots of bulbs that are a wee bit ahead of what's currently blooming in my garden. Blue and yellow is such a wonderful combination, cheery and bright. After they bloom these bulbs will be buried in the garden and bring joy year after year. 

The lilac trees are beginning to bud and will soon be in full leaf followed by scented blooms. When I walk around my garden, boots squelching in the wet ground, I see so many signs of life - on hydrangeas, roses, rhubarb, the apricot tree, peonies, and more. I've begun a bit of pruning and cutting back and will be out there more when things warm up just a wee bit more. Sharp tulip and hyacinth leaves jut up from the soil. The dwarf daffodils are forming buds and beginning to open. I spent a happy hour or so choosing my garden seeds in the local nursery. All of these little things remind me that spring is not far off. 

About this second month of the year Patience Strong wrote, "While it is February, one can taste the full joys of anticipation. Spring stands at the gate with her finger on the latch." Anticipation, yes. There are still weeks to go before spring arrives here, and anticipation is building. How is February in your corner? 


Thursday, February 15, 2024

To the Beach


A trip to the west coast of our island was on the calendar for Valentine's Day and the weather cooperated. The cool air made me glad for my down jacket, toque, and gloves, but no rain fell and the sun played peek-a-boo for a couple of hours. 
The time to visit Botanical Beach is at low tide, and that was scheduled for 10:30. 

A short hike down the wide trail from the parking lot, followed by a walk through the forest where tangled roots, curved trees growing across the path, and a bit of mud took us to the beach. 

Although the tide wasn't particularly low, we found plenty of tide pools to explore. It's fascinating to kneel and peer into them and the longer we peer the more we see.

Prickly purple sea urchins, pink coral, silvery-blue mussels, tiny fish, and more inhabit this coast. Unfortunately the sea urchins are decimating kelp forests. It's a delicate balance, and one of the urchin's few natural predators, the sea otter, was hunted in the last century, allowing the urchins to proliferate. 

In the far distance the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula are visible. Pewter-coloured pools reflect sun and clouds.

A look down the coastline - harsh and rugged, but beautiful. 

Herons are one of my favourite birds. This one posed so well, not too far away from us, and then the sun came out. His beak is a perfect match to the light filtering through the pieces of kelp. 

A breeze ruffled the water while we gazed into a tidal pool and I thought the refracted patterns looked like an abstract piece of art. 

The tide changed and water rushed in upon the shore. We moved towards the forest once again. Halfway between sea and forest someone had placed an empty urchin shell on a tree stump, perfectly posed for a photo. 

It may not have been a traditional Valentine's Day outing, but we had a wonderful time together. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

On a Quiet Sunday


The light today is dull and cloudy. A good day for indoor pursuits. Four loaves of rye bread are currently baking in the oven and filling the house with a wonderful fragrance. No caraway seed in my rye bread - that's one flavour I'm not at all fond of. 

Earlier this week the sun shone for a short while. I captured a crocus open to the light in spite of the shadows over it. 

We had a waffle brunch for our grandson's birthday yesterday and I picked a few hellebores and snowdrops and nestled them in some of the abundant moss growing in our garden for the table. The Fire and Ice pink hellebores are blooming merrily, and the creamy ones are still quite low to the ground, but with lots of buds. Patience needed. 

As part of the "unch" part of brunch yesterday, I made a roasted squash salad with apples, toasted pecans, sliced Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, and goat cheese. The big platter disappeared to the last leafy green. 

The flooring is complete, and all the baseboards and trim installed. I'm very pleased with how it all came together. This room is where we visit with family and friends, but also spend most evenings reading, stitching, or watching television. There is light and warmth, and in the evening we draw the blinds and are cozy in our space. More art will be hung, but I'm taking my time with that. 

The light rain seems to have mostly stopped. As soon as the bread is out of the oven, we're going for a walk, then home to supper and a quiet evening to round out the day. 

Monday, February 05, 2024

Light Increases by the Minute


Darkness continues to dominate, but slowly, slowly the light is gaining. Tomorrow's sunrise is a full five minutes before today's. That's progress! The ducks were very happy paddling around in the bog on a clear afternoon. I love the long reflections in the water and the monochrome effect of the grasses. 

More snowdrops are popping up in my own garden. This pleases me as I'm hoping, one day, for a large patch of them. I see their nodding white heads from my kitchen window, bright against the mostly brown background. 

The first hellebores were a bit battered by the snowfall a couple of weeks ago and now new buds are opening. The white ones are still a bit behind, but showing good progress. 

Gladys Taber wrote, "There is, I have found, at least one good or lovely thing in every single day. Everyone has sorrow, endures difficult times, but loveliness abides if we look for it." Looking for the lovely things is a practice to develop, akin to thankfulness. 
In my garden today the tiny tiny mosses, much amplified in the photo above, are so intricate, even to the little hairs poking up from each petal. Amazing creations!

Inspecting the garden was a good thing today, but at just 5 degrees, a bit chilly for a lengthy stay. For my birthday a few months ago I received an orchid plant. It's been a delight ever since with such long-lasting flowers. 

I never really liked orchids, preferring the blossoms more suited to our Canadian climate. When I lived in the tropics, I grew to appreciate the wide variety of orchids, from the large showy purple and white variety that grew profusely beside the road to the tiny 1/4 inch flowers forming huge clumps in trees for just a week or two in September-October. This orchid reminds me of those days and I can almost feel the intense humidity of the jungle when I look at them. 

Are you a fan of orchids?

Living Alongside Medieval History

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